Marriage and Couples Counselling is a dynamic form of counselling. With both parties present there is immediately a lot of material to work on, both in terms of the different perspectives that each brings as well as the reactions that each has towards the other in the session.
Each person brings their own version of what has happened and what is happening; both have their validity, but what happens is that each person feels they are right and that the other is wrong. Providing space so that each can be really heard is one of the first steps in the process of couples counselling.
The next step is often to explore each party’s perspective in more detail to start to understand it. What are the feelings, the needs and imperatives that make up each person’s situation? From this can emerge a new awareness and understanding of where the other is coming from.
When some of each person’s hurt and distress is allowed, it starts to be possible to see how there has been a vicious circle operating, of reciprocal hurt and attack and resentment. Also, I think, having a third party in the room to witness this process in operation and able to point it out, helps to raise awareness for both of how it works. As this awareness deepens it becomes possible to see that the hurt, anger and distress come from genuine needs that each person has. With this, each can start to re-open the care, concern and / or love that underlies the relationship.
Re-building mutual trust can take time, as can coming to an understanding of our own deeper needs. So this work is firstly about understanding yourself better, then increasing your understanding of the other and how your relationship works.
I start off without an agenda about whether or not a couple ‘should’ be together. I do have an agenda about improving the relationship, the ability to be honest, open and respectful of each other through increased awareness. In the end though I am in favour of relationships, they are the ground from which love can blossom and they are also the anvil on which each person gets to forge a deeper knowledge of themselves.